Coast Guard Aviators to Receive Awards for Search and Rescue Heroics

PORTSMOUTH, VA – Six aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., will be recognized at an awards ceremony Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Elizabeth City for rescuing twelve mariners in adverse conditions last April and May.

Rear Adm. Fred Rosa, Commander of the Coast Guard Fifth District, will present the members of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and C-130 Hercules flight crews with Air Medals, Commendation Medals, Coast Guard Achievement Medals and the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation.

The awards stem from four separate search and rescue cases in April and May. On April 14, 2007, flight crews responded to the sailboat Winds-or-Knot, whose hull developed a three-foot crack 330 nautical miles from Bermuda during a storm with 40 to 50-foot waves. Despite heavy weather, a C-130 crew located and dropped supplies to the stricken vessel, and the helicopter deployed its rescue swimmer in dangerous conditions to airlift three sailors on board to safety.

Three weeks later on the morning of May 7, Air Station Elizabeth City responded again, this time to four separate distress signals within a 12-hour span: those of the sailboats Seaker, Illusion, Sean Seamour II and Flying Colours. Braving low visibility, gale-force winds and high seas, the aircraft located three of the sailboat crews off the North Carolina coast whose vessels had already sunk, were sinking or were in danger of doing so. Rescue swimmers were deployed again, saving nine lives that day. Unfortunately, the Flying Colours was never located.

Some of the mariners who were rescued may attend the awards ceremony.

Air Station Elizabeth City is home to five MH-60 helicopters and four C-130 fixed-wing aircraft executing homeland security and maritime safety missions throughout the eastern Atlantic region.

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